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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Showdown Iraq: Pentagon Reaction

Aired November 13, 2002 - 12:17   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to get some reaction to what's going on now from our senior Pentagon correspondent, Jamie McIntyre.
Jamie, what are they saying where you are?

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, the interesting thing, Wolf, is that it's not unexpected that Iraq would accept the U.N. resolution at this point.

And in fact, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld has laid a series of things Iraq that could do in the coming weeks and months that could essentially complicate things for the United States, and the ironic part about it is the more cooperative Iraq is, or appears to be, the more complicated the problem becomes for the Pentagon.

The worst-case scenario, in terms of the U.S. attempting to disarm Iraq, would be a scenario under which Iraq allowed the inspectors in, they actually found some weapons of mass destruction, and then Iraq would simply declare that whatever the inspectors have found to be the totality of its weapons of mass destruction program. That would lead the United States in a position of, as was said, you know, can it accept yes for an answer?

The problem is the U.S. is convinced that Iraq does have weapons of mass destruction and has hidden many of them, some of them in underground locations that would be extremely hard for inspectors to find.

What is easier is if Iraq defies the inspectors, makes their job complicated. Then the course of action for the United States -- military action -- is fairly clear. But if this plays out where Iraq is able to appear to be cooperative every step of the way, and even admits (ph) that there are some weapon systems or elements of weapon systems that are found, that vastly complicates things.

Now, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld raised this very question in remarks on Monday night to a group here in Washington, and asked himself the question: "What do we do if we get to that point where Iraq appears to have been compliant, while we know it has weapons of mass destruction?" And he simply said, "It's too soon to say what the U.S. would do in that situation."

So, Wolf, the ironic thing about it is the complicated situation for the United States and the military in terms of planning is the question of what happens if Iraq continues to say yes -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jamie McIntyre with that good analysis at the Pentagon -- thanks very much. Jamie, for that.

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